ALBANY — The famous Ohio Pawpaw Festival will not be taking place in 2020, organizers announced Tuesday, June 30.
The festival was set to take place Sept. 11-13, 2020, and would have celebrated all things related to the native Ohio fruit.
“Pawpaw People, we are sad to announce the cancellation of the 22nd Ohio Pawpaw Festival,” a post announcing the change stated on Facebook. “The safety of our guests, partners, volunteers, vendors, musicians, speakers, staff and the greater community is our top priority. Although we can’t be together this fall, we hope to develop ways to virtually celebrate North America’s largest native tree fruit. We will keep you informed as plans emerge.”
Lead organizer Chris Chmiel has been waiting to make a decision on canceling the festival until the end of June, hoping for better prospects as the summer progresses.
The news of this year’s festival cancellation was greeted with sad, but understanding comments on the social media post.
“We have attended the Pawpaw since the beginning,” wrote Karen McGuire. “You are making the right call. Thank you for caring for our community and we will be there when this is over.”
“While sad, I understand,” wrote Lizz Mahar. “Looking forward to virtual celebrations and some way to get my hands on some of those addictive little fruits and tasty treats.”
The Ohio Pawpaw Festival annually features ways to celebrate the pawpaw in all its forms. Food vendors, beer vendors, artists, farmers and enthusiasts are just a few of the festival’s partners. The festival also helps promote environmental awareness and sustainability by partnering with the likes of the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council and the Zero Waste team from the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center.
The soft, mango-like fruit is native to the area and Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival has a mission of celebrating all aspects of the treat. The festival features contests, art, history, education, sustainable living workshops, musical performances and more throughout all three days.
Last year, the festival was threatened by a light pawpaw harvest. Nonetheless, it went off without a hitch.
Festival-goers in 2019 enjoyed a weekend of pawpaw beer to wash down pawpaw-flavored foods and desserts, despite Chmiel and other pawpaw farmers’ concerns of a lighter harvest.
“The last couple of years we’ve had pretty good crops (of pawpaws), but I think you can’t have a good year every year,” he said prior to the 2019 festival. “Luckily, we have frozen stuff from last year’s harvest.”